Vitamin C, an essential nutrient, is found abundantly in many fruits and vegetables. It is important to get enough vitamin C to maintain a healthy immune system, offering many health benefits. People take vitamin C supplements because they claim that supplements have more amount of vitamins than foods. But are there any side effects of eating too much vitamin C?
Vitamin C is responsible for lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, healing wounds, enhancing brain function, keeping the bones healthy, and producing collagen. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, and unlike other fat-soluble vitamins, it does not get stored in the body. Vitamin C dissolves in water; it is transported to body tissues, and extra gets excreted through urine.
The body doesn’t produce its vitamin C, so consuming vitamin C rich food daily is necessary. However, supplements with a high amount of vitamin C can affect the body adversely. Extra vitamin C isn’t absorbed and irritates the gastrointestinal tract, which causes side effects and symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and stomach cramping.
How Much Vitamin C Is ‘Too Much’?
People with a normal diet can’t get too much vitamin C as it is water-soluble, and extra gets excreted through urine. The risk of overdose is higher for people who take vitamin C supplements.
For people 19 years and above, they should not exceed 2000 milligrams of vitamin C intake. This limit is common for females, males, pregnant, or even breastfeeding females. 1800 milligrams for teenagers and 1200 milligrams for 13 years of age children and below vitamin C is harmful.
Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Vitamin C
1. Digestive Problems
Too much vitamin C can cause digestive symptoms, and digestive problems are the commonest side effects. Ingesting more than 2000 milligrams of vitamin C per day will lead to gastrointestinal tract irritation. The most common digestive symptoms are diarrhea and nausea. Acid reflux can also result after consuming excessive vitamin C. If you experience digestive distress, cut off the supplement dose and avoid vitamin C supplements.
2. Iron Overload
Vitamin C enhances iron absorption. Non-heme iron found in plant-based products is not absorbed effectively as the heme iron found in animal-based products by our body. Vitamin C binds with the non-heme iron and makes it easier for the body to absorb it. Non-heme iron is important for people who get their iron from plant-based foods. The risk of iron overload increases when one takes 100 milligrams of vitamin C per day. Hemochromatosis is a condition when too much iron builds up in the body. People with such conditions should be cautious with vitamin C supplements.
3. Kidney Stones
The excessive vitamin C supplementation intake leads to oxalate and uric acid excretion via urine. This compound leads to kidney stone formation as the oxalate binds with minerals and forms crystals that result in kidney stone formation. Studies say that if a person takes 2000 milligrams of vitamin C daily for a week, then the amount of oxalate excreted increases by 20%.
4. Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are bony projections developed along the bone edges, mostly in the joints. People with high vitamin C levels are likely to develop painful bone spurs. Also, a low level of vitamin C can cause painful inflammation in joints, i.e., rheumatoid arthritis. It emphasizes the intake of vitamin C supplements in an appropriate amount.
Vitamin C is usually safe for most people. Intaking 2000 milligrams of vitamin C is impossible if you are on a normal diet. One needs to consume 30 oranges and 15 red peppers in a day for overdosing on vitamin C. Indeed, people can take supplements. The risk of over-consumption of vitamin C can cause digestive symptoms. But kidney stones and iron overload are some of the prominent side effects of eating too much vitamin C.
You can minimize overdose risk by taking approximately 90 milligrams and 75 milligrams of vitamin C per day for men or women, respectively. Most people don’t have to take vitamin C supplements, as eating fresh fruits and vegetables is enough to complete the daily requirement. Unless you have vitamin C deficiency, don’t opt for supplements and consult the doctor before taking them.